43 Comments


  1. I read that article too.

    One hand, controversy drives traffic – check. A common tactic I’ve noticed from him and in the world of attention economy, I don’t knock it.

    Other hand, how can you publish that article without some kind of constructive criticism for the very platform that is the lifeblood of your company? And with such a strong “absolute” closing – I hope that’s his opening to a new vertical and product line, because obviously he’s not planning on being around in 10 years on this very course.

    But hey, he’s more than welcome to join the show to discuss it. I’d even do a special and bring you on Jeff :)

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  2. @Matt – lol, I always get a kick out of reading those articles on that site because someone with common sense always responds in the comments which make the content of the post, laughable. I’m not sure I could be mean AND keep it clean if I were on the air with that person. Then again, I’ve heard from people close to the person that this is not the real thing. Offline, they are a totally different individual. Who knows.

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  3. I saw that article, too. It was a rather pedestrian effort; one might even call it: boring.

    The real experimentation with WordPress 3.8 isn’t necessarily the features being added/updated, but rather the development method. This will be the first release to attempt to incorporate code/features that were first developed and matured as “core” Plugins, and then blessed for incorporation into core once deemed mature enough.

    If this approach works, it could revolutionize WordPress development cycles, and vastly increase the rate and scope of changes and improvements in core.

    Not that I expect someone taking pot-shots from the outside would grasp that, of course.

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  4. Thanks for posting this Jeffro. I posted on the original article and had a damn hard time keeping it mean while still being clean :p (posted under the username TheWebAtom)

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  5. The new WordPress has a lot of renovations like in particular designs for dashboards, I really don’t think renovating WordPress is important. This is nice, the designs for the dashboards are nice and definitely new to me. But basically I don’t its important for the website, I think what’s important is the content and the design of your actual website that needs to be focused on.

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  6. @Chip Bennett – You’re right about the development process. I love features as plugins first because I feel like it’s easier to contribute to them in order to improve them before they are merged with WordPress versus having to use the latest nightly build of core.

    @Shane Gowland – LOL So you’re the one who stepped up to the plate and offered up some common sense. There’s at least one person per article they write that does that. “Change sucks but here’s a screenshot of someone complaining about too much change” fantastic!

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  7. @Tung – I’m not linking to that junk. I thought about it, but it’s better that I don’t.

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  8. Well its good that you didn’t because I think its junk too basically I don’t find that really appropriate or needed for one’s website, it just adds more clutter and stuff.

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  9. I too read that article Jeff. Oh well, he is entitled to his opinion. I disagree with his opinion but he is certainly entitled to it.

    Personally I like the path WordPress is currently on. It’s kind of similar to Linux. Concentrate on stability first. When introducing new features test, test and test some more. Make sure things are stable before worrying about bling.

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  10. @Jeffro – My first journalism professor told us repeatedly to man up and lay it all on the line with every article we wrote. Don’t give us half the story. Don’t be scared to piss a few people off along the way.

    Not linking to the article gives you about as much credibility as the author from that other site. If you want to continue improving your skills as a writer/journalist, put it all out there, the good, the bad, and the “junk”.

    I’m sorry to be critical, but I love WP Tavern and your writing. I expected more.

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    1. Understood. I was wondering why my conscious told me to link to it but instead, I chose not to. There won’t be a next time because I’m no longer going to write anything that has to link to him. Two birds with one stone.

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  11. I read that article… It was one of the worst attempts at linkbating I’ve seen in a long time.

    I’ve always thought that (for the most part) WPMU is a bit of a parasite. They live and sponge off the WordPress name, but as soon as it’s a slow traffic day they canabilize the host for a few extra clicks

    Bad article from a bad website.

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  12. It may well be boring for some, but the original author – whether tongue-in-cheek or just to rile up discussion – seems to have forgotten that it is a utility. It is the back end of a very sound and efficient piece of software and needs to be simple, easy to use and – above all for me, with little time to play around and learn from scratch – reliable in that it doesn’t constantly keep changing. Small enhancements, fine, but not a major work over every few months.

    As to the pretty, pretty side of Joomla: it may well be pretty and catch the eye, but its complexity is overwhelming. Perhaps that is why some sites have moved from Joomla to WordPress – yes, I know people who have moved personally.

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  13. I agree with the message of original article. Like every company that becomes big, WordPress does risk getting stuck in the rut that brought it success.

    WP does appear afraid of change. As the author here validates for them, “it doesn’t make sense to push out major changes that could stop the growth of WordPress or worse, decrease market share due to so many disgruntled users.”

    That is rut thinking. That’s the sort of thing you’d expect to hear at a Microsoft planning meeting. The goal shouldn’t be maintaining a user head count. That’s the way Microsoft thinks. The goal is to stay relevant.

    WP4 does need to be a major overhaul. It will have to rock the boat – but not sink it. That takes guts and talent. Does Automattic have the wherewithal to pull it off? I think they do.

    WordPress though does need to avoid that fear of overhaul rut. The backend (essentially the same for 10 years) is not user friendly. Things like shortcodes, custom fields, metaboxes, media management. My biggest dread is having to teach newbies WP. Teaching them the difference between posts and pages, categories and tags, visual and text editing and so on.

    Thank god for WP101!!!

    The backend does need an overhaul, and not just a visual one. Metaboxes need to be rethought and modernised. And in some cases, integrated into the editor. E.g. Look how Evernote does tags. No reason taxonomies in WP couldn’t be with the editor, instead of down the sidebar. The sidebar should be for functions and settings. Anything to do with content should be in the main section.

    I also I wish WP would finish something! They made a good start on the Media Library, and now stopped again. Where’s media management? e.g.tags. The Media Library is wrongly named. It just be called the Media Black Hole. It’s not friendly for re-use of media.

    And to those here (and there), just because someone writes something provocative and that you disagree with, doesn’t make it link-baiting. To call it link-baiting is not a valid argument.

    All that said though, the new kids on the block – Medium and Ghost – are not necessarily successful because of any fault in WP. It’s more that we all like “shiny and new”. We all like to try new things.

    Both though are blogging platforms only. That is just a subset of what WP is. That allows them to trade on simplicity. But how long does that last? Ask Posterous.

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  14. I am generally kind of person that feeds on critique. if I was Matt Mullenweg, that is exactly the kind of articles I would like to find and read. I like when people tell me I am wrong, sometimes they are right :)

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  15. DaveZ

    I’m OK with boring. But without a reliable, usable iOS app the platform’s growth will indeed be limited…

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  16. To be perfectly honest, I see no problem in comparing the status of WordPress as it is right now. I always keep an eye out for innovation on other platforms. That’ s the reason why I toy around with Drupal, Linux, etc. At the moment it’s certain that there are some CMS’es doing better than WordPress. I have tried SquareSpace and was pleasantly surprised. I see myself leaving WordPress for something like that.

    The thing that’s keeping WP from growing even faster and keeping it’s former image of innovator is indeed the slow pace it has gotten itself into. Nowadays, plugins are required to make you website do what it has to do. Those features may include things that other people won’t use, but I do consider then necessary.

    You can drive the same car chosen by 20% of people, do some custom tweaking under the engine and a new coat of paint.

    Or you could invest into a better car that comes with all of these things already preconfigured.

    Knowing how limited my time is, this may in time get me to move ahead.

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  17. @Vladimir Prelovac – People who care about your product and publicly complain are actually asking you to fix your product so they can keep using it. It’s the people who leave without saying anything that you should be worried about, as they just don’t care anymore.

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  18. Andreas Nurbo

    Well what they write is correct its just cosmetic. Its just Pimp My Ride, new bells and wistles but still the old car underneeth. Its a pig with lipstic or however the expressions goes.
    Nothing actually improves usability wise. Posting aint improved, media library aint improved, WP as an application platform aint improved. Improved theme viewer doesnt really matter to most users I think, Why? Because the need for that means you have A LOT of themes installed on your site and you switch frequently. And how many non wp.com users does that?

    Improved theme engine and plugin engine would be good. Depency support, composer support and what not to really make WP a viable application platform. Such stuff would be great. If the big thing with WP is the plugins and themes then give the devs really good tools to work with.

    @Chip Bennett – Most likely WP4 is WordPress 4.0. Essentially he is expecting that the core team will do something new and not just patch old stuff.

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  19. @Andreas Nurbo -

    Most likely WP4 is WordPress 4.0. Essentially he is expecting that the core team will do something new and not just patch old stuff.

    The current version under development is 3.8. The next version after that will be 3.9. We don’t know what its features or focus will be. So why would version 4.0 even be in discussion right now?

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  20. Andreas Nurbo

    @Chip Bennett – I think hes just hoping that 4.0 will bring innovation and new thinking but I’m just writing what I think. And why not start start discussing what should be in 4.0 already if any big innovations should be made its a good version number to revolutionize with I suppose.

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  21. @Andreas Nurbo -

    I think hes just hoping that 4.0 will bring innovation and new thinking but I’m just writing what I think. And why not start start discussing what should be in 4.0 already if any big innovations should be made its a good version number to revolutionize with I suppose.

    The cynic in me thinks that a reference to “WP4″ indicates that one believes that “WP4″ is the next major WordPress version after “WP3″.

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  22. While many people will see 3.8 as a mostly cosmetic release, that’s not what’s so exciting about it. The new “features as plugins” shift in development has the potential to change, not just the WordPress community, but the entire Web software community in general.

    We’re talking about building features and allowing them to mature over many months rather than just within a dev cycle. Building features that get tested much more than WordPress betas ever will. Allowing developers to have real proposals for concepts that have long been an itch they’d like to scratch.

    Anyone who doesn’t see how innovative this is doesn’t understand this entire change in philosophy and what it could mean for the future of WordPress. WordPress 3.8 renovated how we develop code. This is the time to be excited if you’re a developer.

    This means we can have quicker and more stable release cycles, get more people involved in the process, and only push new features in when they’re absolutely ready.

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  23. @Chip Bennett -

    It concerns me, Chip, that you ask that question!

    If Automattic aren’t thinking about WP4, then we should all be a lot more worried than the even the original article’s author is.

    WP4 (call it whatever you want) is the the big revamp of WordPress. It’s Windows 8; it’s iOS7; it’s iPod touch; it’s Max OSX 10.0.

    You can’t just wake up one day and say, “Hey, let’s build WP4″. When you are as big as WP, you should have long term development plans.

    WP4 has to happen one day. Automattic need to already be considering that day. Otherwise, when it comes, they won’t be ready.

    As Steve Jobs said before he died, Apple had products in the pipeworks for at least a couple of years into the future. That doesn’t mean any of those products were set in concrete.

    You can bet Apple has been talking about and making plans for OS XI since well before Steve died..

    WP was caught napping by Ghost and Medium and now has to play catch up to convince users WP is still relevant as a simple to use blogging platform.

    Ford employ a “Futurist” whose job it is to look as far forward as 2050. 37 years. Surely Automattic can look and plan two to five years ahead? https://www.toledoblade.com/Automotive/2013/06/23/Futurist-at-Ford-looks-far-ahead.html

    Automattic should be already sketching out WP4, even if it is 2 or more years away.

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  24. Chris, WordPress doesn’t use a semantic versioning system. WordPress 4.0 will be no more significant than WordPress 3.9 or WordPress 3.8.

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  25. Andreas Nurbo

    @Justin Tadlock – I really dont see the innovation of plugins as features. After 10 years we take advantage of WP functionality to make and test new WP functionality. Yeah oooh im shitting in my pants with excitement. Its nice and all but it aint innovative to use WP as WP.

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  26. Andreas Nurbo

    @Shane Gowland – Thats a false logic. Just because its not semantic versioning doesnt mean it cant contain more innovative and exciting stuff on that version number. And 4.0 does have a nice ring to it.

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  27. @Justin Tadlock – Too bad few understand this exciting concept. While features will be developed as plugins first and will be added once “They’re ready” or even never added, WordPress core development can actually focus on core meaning platform improvements. Version releases won’t have to take three months anymore with possibly delays.

    The question I have is what happens to the WordPress roadmap? Does this new development process negate the need for one? http://wordpress.org/about/roadmap/ all we see is versions numbers not knowing what to expect. How will people know what features as plugins should be developed in order to fit into a specific version?

    I can partially answer my own question. I think the tandem development cycle will now be the norm instead of the exception. It only makes sense to have a goal for the next version and have people working on plugins for that version during the current dev cycle. As long as 2-3 features as plugins are ready for inclusion into core, this tandem dev strategy should work.

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  28. @Andreas Nurbo – This ones for you. http://pressedwords.com/matt-mullenweg-at-greek-blogger-camp-2008/

    WordPress version numbers: Mullenweg offered his thoughts on the WordPress version numbering. He admitted that because of the extensive changes introduced in WordPress 2.5, it would have better been called “3.0″ using the typical software version increments. But Mullenweg then complained about applications that have “version infliction inflation,” or excessive version increases, and said that from now on WordPress would do releases on a point-by-point basis, not according to the amount of feature change.

    More significantly, he said that WordPress will no longer make releases with major changes. From now on the latest stable WordPress version will be backwards-compatible with the prior release.

    So 4.0 really will be just another number, maybe revolutionary or innovative, maybe not. Of course, this is if you’re implying that because it will be 4.0, they should absolutely do something innovative to match the version number.

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  29. @Andreas Nurbo – So your argument is that 4.0 should be an extra long release cycle because the number has a nice ring to it? I doubt that you’ve ever worked on a serious software development project if you think it’s appropriate for a project (powering ~20% of the web, no less) to suddenly abandon its own philosophy to add “innovative and exciting stuff” to an arbitrarily determined release cycle.

    Furthermore, you dismiss the significance of multi-cycle development of core-features-as-plugins; but then believe a single release cycle (4.0) should be extended to the size of several normal release cycles because INNOVATION!

    And to think, you had the gall to describe my logic as flawed.

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  30. Andreas Nurbo

    @Jeffro – Im perfectly aware of the past.
    3.0 happened to include WP MU. It could have been 3.1 or anything else but it was a milestone none the less coinciding with a nice round number and a total switch in WP development and usage. Im just saying that we could have 4.0 as goal for out of the box thinking. If the out of the box things is actually included in the box or as plugins is another thing entierly. For example could include an installer with WP that makes it easier for people to actually find and install the features as plugins stuff.

    @Shane Gowland – Everything you wrote and attributed to me you just made up.

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  31. @Andreas Nurbo – Hardly. Here’s a roundup.

    Implying 4.0 should be an extra long dev cylce:

    why not start start discussing what should be in 4.0 already if big innovations should be made

    Failure to understand the implications of non-semantic versioning on dev cycle:

    Just because its not semantic versioning doesnt mean it cant contain more innovative and exciting stuff

    Dismissing plugins-as-features:

    After 10 years we take advantage of WP functionality to make and test new WP functionality. Yeah oooh im shitting in my pants with excitement.

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  32. Andreas Nurbo

    @Shane Gowland

    Implying 4.0 should be an extra long dev cylce:

    Bigger stuff can require starting sooner. Talking about the future does not imply dev cycle it self is longer. That would mean that the age of each trac ticket (or feature as a plugin) determines the actual length of the dev cycle.

    Failure to understand the implications of non-semantic versioning on dev cycle:

    Nope. Non semantic does not mean one cant put cool stuff in some arbitrary version number. In this case 4.0.

    Dismissing plugins-as-features:

    Nope. I dismissed the claim that it was innovative. Its good that its finally used. Havent gone far enough though. But its not really features as plugins either though more like development using plugins. As I understand it they arent plugins when integreated into core. And thereby they are not features as plugins. The WP importer is a feature as plugin though.

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  33. @Chris Howard

    It concerns me, Chip, that you ask that question!

    If Automattic aren’t thinking about WP4, then we should all be a lot more worried than the even the original article’s author is.

    Automattic doesn’t control WordPress development roadmap or cycle. Automattic runs the hosted blogging service wordpress.com.

    And again I ask: what is WP4 and why should anyone be thinking about it?

    It is difficult to take as credible complaints about the WordPress development process when those complaints are based on fundamental misunderstanding about how that development process works, or who makes decisions regarding it.

    There is no “WP4″. There was no “WP3″. There will be no “WP5″. WordPress 2.9, WordPress 3.0, and WordPress 3.1 were all equally major releases – just as WordPress 3.7, WordPress 3.8, WordPress 3.9, WordPress 4.0, and WordPress 4.1 will be equally major versions.

    The current major release being developed is WordPress 3.8. After that, the next major release will be WordPress 3.9. Then 4.0, 4.1, and so on. There will be nothing special about WordPress 4.0, or the other 4.x major releases in comparison with WordPress 3.0 or the other 3.x major releases.

    WP4 (call it whatever you want) is the the big revamp of WordPress. It’s Windows 8; it’s iOS7; it’s iPod touch; it’s Max OSX 10.0.

    No, it’s not. What makes you think that it is? WordPress 4.0 will simply be the next major release after WordPress 3.9.

    You can’t just wake up one day and say, “Hey, let’s build WP4″. When you are as big as WP, you should have long term development plans.

    You’re right. The developers woke up sometime last week, held a meeting, and agreed upon the features to be included in WordPress 3.8. At some point, they’ll do the same thing for WordPress 3.9, and then for WordPress 4.0.

    WP4 has to happen one day.

    And indeed: it will – right after WordPress 3.9 is released.

    Automattic need to already be considering that day. Otherwise, when it comes, they won’t be ready.

    I’m sure Automattic will be making accommodations for whatever the WordPress core development team ultimately plans for WordPress 4.0 – just as they will do for WordPress 3.8, WordPress 3.9, and WordPress 4.1 – and just as every other third-party service built on WordPress will also do.

    As Steve Jobs said before he died, Apple had products in the pipeworks for at least a couple of years into the future. That doesn’t mean any of those products were set in concrete.

    You can bet Apple has been talking about and making plans for OS XI since well before Steve died..

    I’m guessing OS XI is considered a separate product from OS X?

    There’s a fundamental misunderstanding here. WordPress 3.0 was the same product as WordPress 2.0, and will be the same product as WordPress 4.0. They’re all merely WordPress, which is a single product with a continuous development cycles. There was no WP2. There is no WP3. There will be no WP4 or WP5. There is only WordPress.

    WP was caught napping by Ghost and Medium and now has to play catch up to convince users WP is still relevant as a simple to use blogging platform.

    Competition is great, and I’m sure that the WordPress core development team will take some cues from what other platforms are doing well. But as far as being “caught napping”? Not buying it.

    Ford employ a “Futurist” whose job it is to look as far forward as 2050. 37 years. Surely Automattic can look and plan two to five years ahead? https://www.toledoblade.com/Automotive/2013/06/23/Futurist-at-Ford-looks-far-ahead.html

    Automattic should be already sketching out WP4, even if it is 2 or more years away.

    At the current development/release pace, I would anticipate WordPress 4.0 to hit sometime in 2014. But since we don’t yet even know what major features or changes are in the works for WordPress 3.9, it really doesn’t much matter what will go into WordPress 4.0, or 4.1, or any other subsequent, major WordPress release.

    Now, if the complaint is that the WordPress core development team doesn’t have a published, long-term, master development roadmap? Yeah, that’s a fair complaint, and one that I agree with.

    I’m hoping that this feature-development-via-plugin model will free up the core team to work on their long-term plans for the platform and its APIs.

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  34. Andreas Nurbo

    @Chip Bennett -

    I’m hoping that this feature-development-via-plugin model will free up the core team to work on their long-term plans for the platform and its APIs.

    Make that most of us.

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  35. My take on the topic at hand (as posted earlier today on our blog):

    Was it a piece of linkbait? Absolutely. Does it raise a point worth discussing? Sure. Was it the right approach? Probably not. Nothing constructive has come out of this. The post was divisive, prompting responses split between “I agree” and “I disagree”.

    The post could’ve been a great chance to raise awareness about how people can get involved with core. Instead it was a wasted opportunity. A shame, really.

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  36. @Andy McIlwain – I think it was the worst possible way to get a discussion started, but it worked. Unfortunately, he also received a bunch of links to the article. As long as that continues to happen, he’ll continue with the practice. I feel somewhat stupid falling for the bait. However, there are some great posts that bring a level headed perspective to the table such as the one by Eric Mann http://eamann.com/biz/wordpress-falling-behind-still-leading/

    I’ve actually read posts from both sides of the argument and they’ve all been much better at discussing the issues at hand versus the post that started the discussion.

    Take a look at the history of posts from that author and you’ll understand that posts like the one he published are great business opportunities, not wasted ones.

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